YouTube's New Monetisation Policy Is Going To Seriously Affect Disabled Creators

17 January 2018, 16:47

Disabled YouTubers
Disabled YouTubers. Picture: Other

By Josh Lee

The new rules don't take into account people with various health needs.

Today, YouTube implimented sweeping new changes to their monetisation policies in response to a "tough year" for the platform in 2017. One part of this included setting new rules for monetisation eligibility - you will now need 1000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the last 12 months to be eligible for monetisation.

While YouTube said that this move was designed to "protect creators," the new changes will have the opposite effect on fledgling YouTubers, many of whom will now find their small income from YouTube taken away. And for YouTubers living with physical or mental health conditions, the adverse affect is likely to be more pronounced.

Why YouTube's new monetisation policy will hurt creators living with physical or mental health conditions.

Think of it like this. If you split those 4,000 hours of watch time into 12 10-minute monthly videos, you'd need at least 2000 views on each to be eligible for monetisation. It doesn't sound like much, but with YouTube's algorithms already making it harder for viewers to discover new YouTube channels, the chances of enough viewers stumbling across a new creator's work to rack up 4,000 hours of view time in 12 months is slim.

YouTubers with conditions that affect their ability to create video content face an even harder struggle. Suppose your out of action for 6 months due to a bad turn in health. Suddenly you have to rack up 4,000 hours on six monthly videos.

"As someone who stopped creating regular content in 2017 due to huge health problems," YouTuber Beckie Jane Brown explained today, "I feel a little stigmatised by the Creators Partner drop."

"It sends signals that only healthy people are welcome and we can't take breaks for our health."

It's not just disabled people who stand to lose out

YouTube has always struggled to live up to its ambition of being a platform that champions diversity. Non-adult LGBTQ+ content is regularly age-restricted, creators of colour struggle to attract the same number of subscribers as their white counterparts, and poorer YouTubers are often outpaced by those with the funds to focus on YouTube instead of paid work. For marginalised creators, these new rules add another hurdle to an already pretty huddle-laden platform, because they don't take the fact that succeeding on YouTube is harder for non-white, LGTBQ+ and disabled people into account.

What should YouTube have done differently?

A reasonable adjustment clause for those who are creating quality content, but face specific barriers to uploading regularly, would have been a good idea. YouTube considers itself to be a place where diversity is encouraged, but in a diverse world one-size-fits-all rules don't work. Make cookie-cutter policies, and you wind up with a cookie-cutter platform. And nobody wants that.